Now that former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has been ousted from his position, proponents of bringing mixed martial arts fighting to New York – the only state where it is illegal – have sensed an opening.
Silver had kept the legalization bill from coming to the floor time and again despite bipartisan support, as a favor to a Las Vegas labor union that contributed to his campaign funds.
Silver however, has since been indicted and forced to resign as Speaker.
Now one of the sports most identifiable stars is coming to New York to speak on behalf of MMA.
Via MMA Mania:
The women’s fight icon and budding actress always has a busy schedule, but she wanted to squeeze in a trip to the State Capital while she was in New York and speak in support of MMA becoming legal there.
“I really want to make this a priority during my visit to New York,” Rousey told the New York Daily News. “It’s pretty much ridiculous that MMA is not regulated here.”
There has been some widespread optimism–more than most in recent years–due to the recent indictment of former Assembly leader Sheldon Silver on corruption charges. Silver has refused to let the bill to legalize MMA get to the Assembly floor for a vote and has been one of the sports biggest road blocks. The man who took his place, Carl Heastie, has co-sponsored the bill in years past and with him now leading the Assembly, many supporters feel the bill will at least get a fair chance for a vote.
“I’d be surprised if the bill wouldn’t pass this year,” said Rousey, who will fight next at UFC 190 against Bethe Correia on August 1st. “I have a huge sense of optimism this year.”
Previous versions of an MMA bill have passed in the state Senate four times, but were stalled in the Assembly thanks to Silver.
A new legalization bill currently has 53 sponsors, though there are indications from the Majority Leader that there are over 60 legislators on board.
Political consultant John Brodigan is optimistic, even discussing future events that may be featured in New York.
Via the IJ Review:
This would be great news for Long Island’s Chris Weidman, the UFC middleweight champion, and other aspiring UFC fighters across the state.
The UFC doesn’t have a specific date reserved for a first show if the law wins approval in Albany, but according to What Culture, there’s already talk of UFC looking to host the anticipated fight between Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir 3 in the Empire State.
Brodigan previously spoke with MenRec about the benefits of having MMA legalized in New York state.
“New York needs the UFC a lot more than they need us,” he explained. “They’re doing fine without running events here, the only state where it isn’t legal and a state that needs the added revenue.”
How much revenue? Independent studies suggest that four major shows and a few minor ones in the first year alone would result in anywhere between $23 million and $40 million in economic impact for the state.